Everyone knows the Olympics are a big deal. The opening and closing ceremonies are often used to showcase cutting edge tech and proving that the host country is at the forefront of modern civilisation. With the Rio Games getting ever closer, talks are underway of how best to show off the great city of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
One of the more radical ideas was from a company called Star-ALE. They want to create an artificial meteor shower by sending a satellite into orbit and having it release up to a thousand pellets that would burn in the atmosphere in the same way cosmic matter would. Lab tests for the project – known as Sky Canvas – revealed that the colour of the burn could be changed depending on the chemical makeup of the pellets. For example, copper would burn green while lithium would shine pink.
Speaking to IFL Science, a spokesperson from Star-ALE said that they would love to be a part of the Olympics but it hadn’t been decided yet. “… articles claiming that we ‘want’ to provide shooting stars for the Olympics are true, but those that claim that we ‘will’ or ‘have proposed to’ are not.”
The company wants to launch a demonstration spacecraft as early as next year. The pellets will reportedly burn at an altitude of about 60 to 80 kilometers, and they’ll be visible on the ground across an area spanning 200 kilometers, 400 times wider than a firework exploding at an altitude of 500 meters. The company said that 30 million people in Tokyo would see the meteors.
All this splendor doesn’t come cheap though. 1000 pellets will cost about US$8million and that’s not including development and launch costs. The company hopes, however, that the project will inspire future space-based research. CEO Dr. Lena Okajima, told Core 77 “This type of project is new in the sense in that it mixes astronomy and the entertainment business. These shooting stars that are born through science function as a high-profit entertainment business, and the resulting funds will serve to further advance fundamental scientific research.”